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EDITORIAL: JEEPNEY PHASE-OUT


FEBRUARY 8 -As promised, jeepney operators and drivers observed a “holiday” at the start of the week, stranding thousands of commuters but easing traffic and improving air quality in the chronically congested streets of Metro Manila. The holiday was in protest against plans to phase out the mass transport vehicle that has been ubiquitous in this country for over half a century. With their gaudy body paint, blaring music and uniquely Pinoy nuggets of wisdom about drivers being sweet lovers, jeepneys have been featured in Philippine postcards and transformed into tourist souvenirs. While symbolizing Filipino culture, however, the jeepney has also become associated with inefficient and unsustainable mass transportation in Metro Manila. Jeepneys are among the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Their drivers are also notoriously resistant to any effort to impose road discipline, picking up and unloading passengers even in the middle of busy thoroughfares and turning stops into virtual terminals. Thanks to the lack of better alternatives, however, the jeepney has managed to survive, despite tying up traffic in many areas and fouling up air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers including the nation’s summer capital, Baguio City. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Living simply  

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FEBRUARY 9 -In a statement reminiscent of his predecessor’s “kayo ang boss ko (you are my boss),” President Duterte reminded government employees yesterday that they are workers in the service of the public. He also reminded employees in the Bureau of Customs to “live simply” and not “crave for things which you cannot afford” or “dream of things beyond your reach.” Similar messages have been given to BOC personnel in previous administrations. Perhaps this President would have a better chance of seeing his admonition heeded by workers in an agency that is consistently rated as one of the most corrupt. As recent developments have shown, the President also has to do more to get his message across to the Philippine National Police, from low-ranking personnel up to its chief, who sees nothing wrong with living beyond his means and going on a multimillion-peso junket with his family to Las Vegas courtesy of a senator. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Bobit Avila - What’s up with the mining industry?


FEBRUARY 9 -By Bobit S. Avila
Allow me to remind our readers that today is the official start of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which is now on its 21st year! This is the weekend of everything that flies that is happening in Clark, Pampanga from Feb.9-12, 2017. Once again, kudos to Capt. Joy Roa (of Air Safari fame) for singlehandedly promoting the Balloon Fiesta in the Philippines which you can never experience anywhere else in the country. Unfortunately I cannot join this exhilarating event as I’m still recovering from my kidney operation. But it certainly brings back memories when three years ago, I went to Clark Air Base to take my first balloon ride. But aviation buffs should never miss it. During my youth when the Philippine Air Force (PAF) had squadrons of Super Sabre F-86 Jets, they would often conduct air shows at the old Lahug Airfield, leaving an indelible mark in my boyhood, which is why I love the aviation industry. Finally, birthday greetings to my dear friend, Capt. Joy Roa. More power to you! READ MORE...

ALSO By Carmen Pedrosa: CHANGE - 'We want it, waiting is not an option’


FEBRUARY 11 -By Carmen N. Pedrosa
A single word united the crowd of more than a million who came – change. By change they mean meaningful change to reconstruct Filipino politics, government and way of life. Each one had his or her own way of articulating it. But it was a moment of triumph for the people to be truly sovereign. They could if they wanted to.There are aerial pictures of the crowd raising the flag over their heads for everyone to see that moment preserved for posterity. But how do we move forward? There have been several statements coming from the Palace as well as Congress but all these, in my opinion, fall short to fulfill the vision that May 7 and Duterte promised. Real change as Duterte has said often enough would mean a new constitution, not just amendments. The new constitution would be all inclusive and bind all Filipinos here and abroad into a new nation with a parliamentary federal system. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL - Jeepney phase-out

MANILA, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 (PHILSTAR) February 8, 2017 - 12:00am - As promised, jeepney operators and drivers observed a “holiday” at the start of the week, stranding thousands of commuters but easing traffic and improving air quality in the chronically congested streets of Metro Manila.

The holiday was in protest against plans to phase out the mass transport vehicle that has been ubiquitous in this country for over half a century. With their gaudy body paint, blaring music and uniquely Pinoy nuggets of wisdom about drivers being sweet lovers, jeepneys have been featured in Philippine postcards and transformed into tourist souvenirs.

While symbolizing Filipino culture, however, the jeepney has also become associated with inefficient and unsustainable mass transportation in Metro Manila. Jeepneys are among the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Their drivers are also notoriously resistant to any effort to impose road discipline, picking up and unloading passengers even in the middle of busy thoroughfares and turning stops into virtual terminals.

Thanks to the lack of better alternatives, however, the jeepney has managed to survive, despite tying up traffic in many areas and fouling up air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers including the nation’s summer capital, Baguio City.

READ MORE...

The proposal to phase out jeepneys from Metro Manila has been kicked around for decades now. Its revival by the Duterte administration will end up as another exercise in futility unless certain concerns are sufficiently addressed.

One is livelihood for the drivers who will be displaced as well as the operators, most of whom are small-scale transport owners. Relegating them to side streets or to the rural areas won’t work; most of them are in Metro Manila because they want the livelihood opportunities in the mega city.

Another concern is the alternative to the jeepney. More buses must be fielded and the light rail and commuter train services substantially upgraded if the administration wants the jeepney phase-out to enjoy mass support. Commuters don’t like the inefficiency of the jeepney and would readily take something faster, cleaner and more comfortable at a reasonable price. But buses, light rails and trains are packed like sardines throughout most of the day, and the average commuter cannot afford taking a taxi regularly.

Unless these concerns are addressed, the latest effort to phase out jeepneys will go the way of previous efforts – straight to the wastebasket.


EDITORIAL - Living simply (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 9, 2017 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

In a statement reminiscent of his predecessor’s “kayo ang boss ko (you are my boss),” President Duterte reminded government employees yesterday that they are workers in the service of the public.

He also reminded employees in the Bureau of Customs to “live simply” and not “crave for things which you cannot afford” or “dream of things beyond your reach.” Similar messages have been given to BOC personnel in previous administrations. Perhaps this President would have a better chance of seeing his admonition heeded by workers in an agency that is consistently rated as one of the most corrupt.

As recent developments have shown, the President also has to do more to get his message across to the Philippine National Police, from low-ranking personnel up to its chief, who sees nothing wrong with living beyond his means and going on a multimillion-peso junket with his family to Las Vegas courtesy of a senator.

READ MORE...

Aware that low pay in government is contributing to corruption, the President is moving to improve salaries and benefits of public servants. The government, however, has limited funds, and there are state employees who will find the lure of huge profits from corruption and other illegal activities irresistible. Making these employees live within their means will require more persuasion.

The most persuasive is the certainty that those who steal or misuse public funds will get caught and face punishment. As in other crimes, failure to bring perpetrators to justice breeds impunity among corrupt government workers.

The Bureau of Customs has been among the most resistant to cleansing efforts, with almost every BOC commissioner lamenting the difficulty of eradicating entrenched corruption in the agency. President Duterte and his officials have vowed to intensify the campaign against corruption this year. If they can succeed in the BOC, it would be an unprecedented victory, whose impact could cascade to other government agencies.


What’s up with the mining industry? SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 9, 2017 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 1


By Bobit S. Avila

Allow me to remind our readers that today is the official start of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which is now on its 21st year! This is the weekend of everything that flies that is happening in Clark, Pampanga from Feb.9-12, 2017. Once again, kudos to Capt. Joy Roa (of Air Safari fame) for singlehandedly promoting the Balloon Fiesta in the Philippines which you can never experience anywhere else in the country.

Unfortunately I cannot join this exhilarating event as I’m still recovering from my kidney operation. But it certainly brings back memories when three years ago, I went to Clark Air Base to take my first balloon ride. But aviation buffs should never miss it. During my youth when the Philippine Air Force (PAF) had squadrons of Super Sabre F-86 Jets, they would often conduct air shows at the old Lahug Airfield, leaving an indelible mark in my boyhood, which is why I love the aviation industry. Finally, birthday greetings to my dear friend, Capt. Joy Roa. More power to you!

READ MORE...

* * *

The other day, Karen Davila’s Headstart on ANC had Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez as her guest where she gave a video presentation of the alleged violations by 23 mining companies all over the country. She gave a video or a PowerPoint presentation of those alleged violations by the mining companies. But that was only for the DENR side.

In fairness to Karen Davila, yesterday morning she had Mr. Ronald Recidoro, vice president of the Chamber of Mines as her guest to give the side of the mining industry and it was quite surprising to hear that as of yesterday the Chamber of Mines members have not yet received the DENR closure or suspension order. Nor did any of the mining companies get a copy of the DENR audit documents. I find this quite strange because before you close a company the owners should be given the closure order and the reasons why you are being shut down by the government.

What is even more serious are the accusations by Mr. Recidoro that the audit team of the DENR is “loaded” with anti-mining activists? Is this true Sec. Gina? I know for a fact that there are just too many people who are against mining. Many of them are bishops of the Catholic Church and leftist groups in the guise of “protecting the environment.” But I dare say that the Duterte administration must strike the right balance in the mining industry. Shutting down mining operations like in the Caraga Region because the mining industry has not improved the poverty in the area is a very simplistic reason to shut down mining operations.

Let me say it here, mining companies can provide jobs in the most remote areas of the country, but getting the people out of poverty is not the job of these mining companies. Sec. Gina Lopez also came up with a comparison with the mining industry and the tourism industry. This for me is comparing apples with oranges. Mining companies are attracted to the minerals found in a remote area…but these are areas that tourists would never dare come for a visit. So this comparison is faulty to say the least.

During that interview with Karen Davila, Mr. Recidoro showed areas where the rivers turned brown due to siltation. Karen reacted that she never knew of rivers turning brown without a mining operations nearby. Let me tell Karen Davila that in the town of Liloan, some 18 kilometers north of Cebu City after a strong rain, our beaches turn brown because the river washes into the sea. But there are no mining operations in the area. Siltation of our rivers is commonplace all over the country.

Again, we are keenly interested in following up the issues surrounding the mining industry. We in Cebu have lived with Asia’s largest copper mine with the Atlas Mining and Development Company that turned Toledo City from a first class town into a city. But when copper prices plunged and Atlas Mines suffered crippling strikes, it resulted in an economic downturn of Toledo City. So whether you like it or not, the mining industry is vital to the economy of the country. Which is why the Duterte administration should seriously look into this issue and not just look at the side of the DENR.

* * *

Finally, my dream of the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is nearing reality when the Duterte Cabinet agreed to the restoration of a mandatory ROTC for the next school year. However the restoration of the mandatory ROTC would require an amendment to the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Law, which was enacted in 2002. So now it is up to Congress to revise this law. The ROTC program is the only school program that instills love of country and patriotism for our youth.


‘We want it, waiting is not an option’ FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 12, 2017 - 12:00am 0 57 googleplus0 0 The spectacular support for Rodrigo Duterte was demonstrated on May 7, 2016.


By Carmen N. Pedrosa

A single word united the crowd of more than a million who came – change. By change they mean meaningful change to reconstruct Filipino politics, government and way of life. Each one had his or her own way of articulating it. But it was a moment of triumph for the people to be truly sovereign. They could if they wanted to.There are aerial pictures of the crowd raising the flag over their heads for everyone to see that moment preserved for posterity.

But how do we move forward? There have been several statements coming from the Palace as well as Congress but all these, in my opinion, fall short to fulfill the vision that May 7 and Duterte promised.

Real change as Duterte has said often enough would mean a new constitution, not just amendments. The new constitution would be all inclusive and bind all Filipinos here and abroad into a new nation with a parliamentary federal system.

READ MORE...

Several statements have come both from the Palace and Congress. In my humble opinion by using the tools of the present system to bring change is foolhardy. We will fail. A Duterte-Puno combination offers the best chance to begin the work. We need to move as fast as we can. If we wait, we will surely lose by default. That is what those against reform want. They want to return to pre-Duterte government of DAP and PDAF of the Liberal party headed by former President Noynoy Aquino.

Delay is the biggest enemy to fulfill May 7’s moment of triumph. That enthusiasm will soon fade away, if we do not move fast enough. Questions like will it be by people’s initiative, by constituent assembly or by constitutional convention etc, etc. are delaying tactics. We have seen it happen so often we should have learned our lesson by now. We are being lured into a trap made by the status quo. There is a way to avoid that trap.

In my humble opinion the magic formula would be a combined leadership of Rodrigo Duterte as the strongman and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as the constitutionalist. I have posted it in social media and it has been received enthusiastically. It will be acceptable to different sectors of society.

Puno will form the committee of constitutionalists while Duterte will use his power and strength as Chief Executive to secure the committee and enable it to do its work. Otherwise forget about May 7’s crowd and BayanKo’s crowdsourcing. We cannot rely on a Congress developed in a presidential system that is the source of our problems. But we can if we have Duterte acting as leader-strongman and Puno as an accepted moderate to form and lead a committee. The combination when put together might just be the key for a new beginning that has eluded us for years. I remember in one of our meetings when Sen. Ernesto Herrera was still alive. Puno whose legal career began with labor said we should include the right to work and social benefits in a Bill of Rights.

Come to think of it, we should only have a short constitution similar to a preamble and legalities contained in appendices for lawyers. It must be written in simple language understandable to all. The Mabini Decalogue of the Philippine Revolution had only 10 statements to embody of essential principles and moral concepts.

In his State of the Nation Address, Duterte said the Philippines is well advised to have a federal parliamentary form of government patterned after France.

Under this set-up, a bicameral Parliament elects a leader of the majority party or coalition called the prime minister, and they will be in charge of government policies. Duterte, however, still wants Filipinos to elect their own president.

In a speech Puno asks “What is new? Today, so many centuries after, the news is still lack of democratic representation of some sectors of our society but this time, in our Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary. I refer to the complaint of our Muslim brothers and sisters of their utter lack of representation in the Senate and the Supreme Court and underrepresentation in the Executive Department.”

The crowd, the sovereign people is the third component of this formula. We should retrace the steps that led to May 7.

Shirky writes in his book Here comes Everybody is about organizing without organizations. We use social media and it has proven to be effective.

“Social tools, such as blogging, software like WordPress and Twitter, file sharing platforms like Flickr, and online collaboration platforms like Wikipedia, support group conversation and group action in a way that could previously only be achieved through institutions.”

Shirky argues that “with the advent of online social tools, groups can form without previous restrictions of time and cost, in the same way the printing press increased individual expression, and the telephone increased communications between individuals.

The crowd, the sovereign people is the third component of this formula. We should retrace the steps that led to May 7. We will have three factors working side by side – the May 7 crowd, Duterte as strongman and Puno as constitutionalist.

I think Duterte understands the power of social media so he invited bloggers to the Palace and they said they were mystified. Here what one who was present said.

“But I met the President of the Philippines. I had dinner at the palace where he holds office. I was allowed six precious hours inside his office and private abode. And he himself gave a personal tour, because as what he said “I want you to see and enjoy this because this is yours. You paid for it.”

Just like that.”

The title of this column comes from a review of Here comes Everybody by Timothy Lee. That expresses the situation of constitutional change now. We are running out of time.


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